Drug trial used for obese mothers


The headlines in the paper for treating babies in the womb for obesity is not quite as it sounds. This is part of an ongoing study in the NHS to seek to reduce the risks that exist in pregnancy when the mother is obese.

If the mother is obese risks increase to both mother and baby. For the mother risks are of blood sugar rises and diabetes in pregnancy, miscarriage, blood clotting, high blood pressure and increased risk of maternal death. For the baby increased risk of  death and still birth, abnormalities at birth, dystocia – where the shoulder gets stuck in the womb and the baby being too large for age.

Metformin is the drug being trialed. It is commonly used in diabetic patients to help with their blood sugar. It is not currently licensed for use in pregnancy though doctors can prescribe it if they feel it is necessary. The trial will be looking to see if the risks to mother and baby are reduced and if the weight of the baby is affected. A possible mode of action of the drug is to aim to improve the mother’s response to sugars in the diet, by improving the hormone insulin’s action. This thought is that reducing the amount of blood sugar available to the baby may then be key to lowering the birth weight of the baby.

The trial will run from 2010-2014, by the University of Edinburgh, covering 400 obese pregnant women from around the UK. This EMPOWaR trial will be used from 12 weeks into pregnancy and through until one year after birth. 

The advice to mothers is to loose weight before getting pregnant. However if you are already overweight when you become pregnant this is not the time for radical weight loss as this can have negative effects. Instead maximise healthy eating with controlled portion sizes, including lots of vegetables and salads in the meal that will naturally reduce high calorie portion sizes and keep up regular recreational activity daily.

This is the time to cut out all the junk food to make room for increasing intake of all the good vitamins and minerals that mother and baby need as the extra calories from poor food sources will only promote further weight gain. 

Watch the news clip here